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Mining, Deep Seas and Stupidity
My Question this Week
France's Macron and I agree on one thing at least. We must put a stop to deep-sea mining before it starts. Those who see commercial opportunity in deep sea mining point to the need for green minerals for instance. But how stupid is that argument - should we harm what is left to save us from what has been harmed? Mining is extremely damaging, and deep-sea mining is even more so. Sound and dust travel farther in water, and flora and fauna in the sea tend to be far more sensitive to their surroundings. But most importantly, it will be far more difficult to monitor what companies and countries are doing in such locations. Already in India Aravalis are being cut indiscriminately for stone mining, riverbeds across India are being destroyed for sand mining, forests for coal and minerals, etc. And all of these can be better monitored than underwater mining can ever be. Imagine, a new resurgent India and its mining companies mining the planet's oceans. What will happen if we don't get the minerals we need? Not much, the cost of minerals will be higher, and as a consequence greater amount will be spent to find alternatives, as these minerals become more expensive, the greater will be the returns from finding alternatives. And cleaner will be the new technologies. Remember, humanity has never run out of any minerals, when something gets rare, its price rises, and alternatives are found. The same will occur in other spaces. Would we want to destroy the ocean's ecology which can not be later reversed, for the sake of minerals whose alternatives we did not try hard enough to look for?
My Views this Week
That inordinately high levels of heat impact crops adversely is quite well known, but will livestock be affected too? The answer is not clear, traditional breeds of cattle for instance are much hardier and can withstand a large variation in climate. Newer breeds optimised for milk or meat output and not survival are naturally more likely to be adversely impacted. Availabilty of nutrition and water is critical, and in times of heat both water and fodder become more difficult and expensive. It may sound obvious, but how are we preparing for a new hotter normal?
Public transport requires the obvious - timeliness, cleanliness, safety, high frequency, and information. And all are fairly weak in urban India. One would have guessed that this is the most obvious that all urban transport planners would ensure. However, Indian bureaucrats and politicians have for long believed that urban transport is only about the provision of vehicles and low-cost tickets.
The 1.5-degree target will be crossed, and that is apparent in so many different ways. Someone worked out that at the rate carmakers are planning their transition, about half a billion more cars would be produced than required to manage a 1.5-degree temperature increase. And this does not even include two-wheelers and other commercial vehicles.
Who in India's Foreign Ministry would have predicted that India would suffer from the same accusations that it makes? "Highly polluting emerging economies including China and India should pay into a climate compensation fund to help countries rebuild after climate change-driven disasters," said PM Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbados. He may be the first to categorize India as responsible and liable to pay for the damage in his country, but will not be the last. A major International Relations disaster awaits India if small countries, and by my count, there are about 100-120 of those, suffer more from a changing climate but can't access funds to adapt and repair.